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Third Committee of the 51st General Assembly

Statement of Ms. Zdenka Machnyikova, Representative of the Czech Republic, Implementation of human-rights instrumentsNew York, 14 November, 1996 Statement of Ms. Zdenka Machnyikova, Representative of the Czech Republic, Promotion and protection of the rights of childrenNew York, 13

  • Statement of Ms. Zdenka Machnyikova, Representative of the Czech Republic, Implementation of human-rights instruments
    New York, 14 November, 1996

  • Statement of Ms. Zdenka Machnyikova, Representative of the Czech Republic, Promotion and protection of the rights of children
    New York, 13 November, 1996

  • Statement by Ms. Marketa Suranova, Report of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions
    New York, November 1, 1996

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic, International drug control
    New York, October 18, 1996


Statement of Ms. Zdenka Machnyikova, Representative of the Czech Republic, Implementation of human-rights instruments

Madam Chair,

Three years ago, during the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, delegates confirmed the existence of weak points in implementing international norms related to human rights. This is why this area is of primary importance.

Universal ratification of these norms is a paramount goal, the attainment of which would give practical expression to the universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated character of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Member States present in Vienna made specific commitments concerning the accession, ratification and implementation of human-rights instruments at the Vienna Conference, as well as at other major United Nations Conferences. Still,the Czech Republic considers the progress towards universal ratification rather slow.

Madam Chair,

Attaining the universal ratification and implementation of human-rights instruments is crucial for the enjoyment of human rights. National and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds should not be invoked to undermine the universality of human-rights instruments. Reservations should not serve as an expedient for acquiring international respectability by purported adherence to a treaty, while ignoring its obligations in practice. Finally, States that have made reservations should regularly consider the posibility of withdrawing them or further limiting their scope.

The Czech Republic is facing several such tasks, that is, the tasks of withdrawing reservations meda by a previous regime, and we would like to accomplish them as soon as possible. Recently, for example, we have for the first time recognized the jurisdiction of the Committee against Torture under Articles 21 and 22 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The solemnity of that step is indicated by the fact that the Czech Republic has accepted the jurisdiction of the European Commitee on the Prevention of Torture established under the respective instrument of the Council of Europe.

Similar steps are now being considered, directed at accepting the jurisdiction of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Madam Chair,

From the point of view of efficiency of human-rights instruments, The Czech Republic finds it necessary to strengthen the control functions of the U.N. treaty bodies which would enable the gathering of facts on the human-rights situation in individual countries, including the activities of impartial monitoring missions, special rapporteurs and monitoring bodies as such.

We therefore have high expectations for the innovative approach to the control mechanism in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We hope that additional amendments will facilitate their work. We also urge States Parties to take appropriate steps so that the acceptance of those amendments by the required can be reached as soon as possible.

Madam Chair,

Allow me to express our gratitude to the High Commissioner's continuing efforts in improving the coordination and cooperation among various monitoring bodies, including the special rapporteurs, and within the United Nations system as a whole.

We urge the chairs of monitoring bodies to continue in examining ways of reducing duplicity in reporting required under the relevant instruments, without impairing its quality.

It is essential both for United Nations bodies and for national authorities to follow up on recommendations and conclusions of treaty-monitoring bodies. We therefore hope that States Parties will pay serious attention to them and will do their best to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people. For the Czech Republic, this is a question of vital importance.


Statement of Ms. Zdenka Machnyikova, Representative of the Czech Republic, Promotion and protection of the rights of children

Madam Chair,

Since the statement of European Union on agenda item 106 was presented on behalf of the Czech Republic as well, I would like to focus my statement only on a few particular issues.

Concern over the commercial sexual exploitation of children - a most brutal and condemnable crime - has been increasing. This is due, on the one hand, to the fact that the number of children abused in prostitution and pornography, sale and trafficking for sexual purposes has itself been dramatically increasing during the last few years.

On the other hand, the international community is more and more aware of this problem. And indeed, the protection of children must remain on the political agenda.

The international instruments for protecting children, including, above all, the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, provide a good basis for such protection and recognize children's rights: especially the right to be treated with dignity and to enjoy individual human rights. But legislation itself is not enough. We have to concentrate our efforts on its full implementation, on the international as well as on the national level. We obviously need to take preventive action, to provide assistance to the victims in their recovery and reintegration into society. We must take co-ordinated and multidisciplinary approach and cooperate with all sectors of the society. International co-operation, which is no longer a matter only of states but increasingly also of NGOs, is essential in this regard as well. We must strengthen it by all possible means. The Czech Republic wishes to be actively involved in this process.

Madam Chair,

The World Congress against commercial sexual exploitation of children held in August in Stockholm amounted to one recent practical example of international cooperation, as many of delegations has already mentioned. The Czech Republic welcomed and supported it. It directly addressed the problem and provided an open forum for discussion and exchange of information among delegates from almost all countries as well as from international organizations and NGOs. The Declaration and Agenda for Action adopted at the Congress provide good strategies for starting the concrete work. The implication for the Czech Republic is to analyse and define the scope of the problem at the national level and develop a plan of action in the near future.

Speaking about international efforts, one has to mention the useful work of the UN Special Rapporteur for the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography. The Czech Republic appreciates her active and courageus work in combatting commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Czech Republic has had the honour of hosting Mrs. Ofelia Calcetas Santos during her visit earlier this year. We believe her report form this visit will provide information that will be helpful not only to others but also to ourselves.


Statement by Ms. Marketa Suranova, Report of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Madam Chair,

I wish to express on behalf of the Czech Republic our great appreciation for UNHCR's daily effort to eliminate or at least mitigate the plight of refugees, returnees and displaced persons. This question represents one of the most acute and complicated problems of our time. To cope with it, the international community needs to take concerted, coherent and regional action based on close cooperation among the relevant specialized agencies within as well as outside the UN system. The Czech Republic supports UNHCR's efforts aimed at adequate lasting solutions to the issue of refugees..

In this context, we stress voluntary repatriation and reintegration of refugees in their countries of origin. An alternative solution practicable in the Czech Republic is their integration in our country, with emphasis on family reunion.

Madam Chair,

In this context, I would recall that this past June, the Czech Republic took the first concrete steps for voluntary repatriation of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who were under our temporary protection. When a refugee expresses a desire to return, the authorities examine the situation in the region where he wishes to go, find out whether any temporary accommodation would be available and whether the repatriate would have any chance of reintegration; this is done in cooperation with UNHCR and Bosnian authorities. Out of the 400 persons who wished to return, three groups totalling 205 people have already been transported home by air. Repatriates who are unable to settle in the country of origin may return to the Czech Republic within the first three months after repatriation. Voluntary repatriation is organized by the Ministry of the Interior in close cooperation with UNHCR. In addition to covering the costs of repatriation, including a start-up allowance and transportation, the Czech Republic moreover is contributing to the UNHCR Trust Fund for Shelter Material in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The repatriation procedure is conducted with regard to recommendations and principles of UNHCR, according to which voluntary and safe return of refugees and displaced persons is an integral element of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Czech Republic is fully aware of its importance, as testified e.g. by our direct development aid and financial contributions to relevant organizations. We appreciate the pivotal role of UNHCR in coordinating the repatriation process and generally in all of its humanitarian efforts.

The Czech Republic emphasizes the need to respect the basic instruments concerning refugees and supports UNHCR in its endeavour to increase the number of States Parties to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and to the 1967 Protocol concerning the status of refugees, and to ensure appropriate follow-up. The Czech Republic likewise respects UNHCR's interest in harmonizing the relevant domestic legislation with the mentioned instruments.

Madam Chair,

In this connection, certain changes have been made to the Czech legislation. This year, the Parliament of the Czech Republic amended refugee legislation. As a consequence, a refugee in the Czech Republic is treated as a permanent resident for purposes of health and social insurance and for the purpose of naturalization. In addition, the legislation abolished previous time-limits for refugee status. Refugees are indirectly encouraged to seek naturalization: refugee status is now accorded for an unlimited period and the five years of permanent residence required for naturalization start running with the granting of refugee status - whereas previously, the required five years of permanent residence started running only after refugee status expired, i.e., after the first five years spent in the country. Thus to become a Czech citizen, a refugee in fact had to live ten years in the country.

Another important development is that the Government decided to extend yet again temporary protection, a humanitarian institute designed principally for Bosnians, this time untill 31 December 1996.

As for refugee regulations de lege ferenda, work on a new asylum system is underway. It will reflect both Czech and EU experience. Without a priori barring access to asylum procedure to any category of asylum seekers, the draft legislation follows two aims - to provide fair and effective process, including legal devices designed to prevent abuses of asylum procedure in the largest category of asylum seekers - economic migrants - and to afford protection to those who really need it, e.g. by introducing the institute of "safe third country".

Madam Chair,

Let me conclude by saying that the Czech Republic appreciates the cruicial role of UNHCR in the sphere of international protection of refugees and in seeking lasting solutions to their problems and is always ready to actively assist the High Commissioner in fulfilling these functions.


Statement by H.E. Mr. Karel Kovanda, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, International drug control

Madam Chair,

Let me congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on your election and wish you all much success in carrying out your tasks.

A number of speakers have already pointed to the increasing seriousness of the drug problem and stressed the need for wider international cooperation in this field. My Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed this question in his recent statement before the GA as well.

Important ideas concerning international cooperation in combatting drug abuse were also voiced at last summer's high-level segment of ECOSOC. However, that meeting produced few if any any practical results. We hope that the results of future talks at a similar level will be more productive.

The Czech Republic welcomes the decision to hold a special session of the UNGA on drugs next summer. This will be the proper forum for dealing with international cooperation in combatting drug abuse. As a member of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs we will participate in its preparation. For the special UNGA session to succeed, it will be necessary to provide its preparatory body, and we believe this should be the UNCND, sufficient space and a sufficient mandate to do the necesssary work. The agenda should include only key questions so as to avoid the atomization of problems. The session should be aimed at increasing the efficiency of existing instruments in international cooperation in combatting drugs rather than at forging any new ones.

Madam Chair,

The UN Drug Control Program has earned an irreplaceable and stable role in international cooperation in combatting drug abuse. We greatly appreciate all of its activities, in particular the attention it attaches to cooperation at regional level. The Czech Republic is well aware of the fact that the projects and activities of the UNDCP can be carried out only if adequately funded, and is convinced that new sources for financing the UNDCP and its activities will be found.

An important aspect of international cooperation in combatting drugs is the establishment and cultivation of contacts among law-enforcement institutions around the world. Cooperation helps fighting drug dealers.

Apart from the social effects of drug abuse, its economic impact on both advanced and on developing countries is also great, though hard to quantify. An additional question which poisons the business climate and the morals of a country is the effect of laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking.

In its domestic anti-drug policy, the Czech Republic focuses among other on demand reduction and on coordinating primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Above all, we emphasize primary prevention as it is oriented towards the most vulnerable groups of the population, namely young people and children.

We also focus on drug production and the related question of precursors. We are currently preparing legislation which will regulate the whole complex of issues concerning narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and - for the first time - also the issues of precursors and of secondary substances. Without ample international cooperation it will not be possible to prevent the flow of precursors into the network of illicit drug manufacturers and traffickers. Estimates of consumption made by states-parties to the 1988 convention could serve as guidelines in granting export permits for precursors. In this context the Czech Republic highly praises cooperation with the Inmternational Narcotics Control Board in Vienna. Its efforts have contributed to a sebstantial reduction in the spread of precursors to the illicit network of drugs manufacturers.

Madam Chair,

The international community already has at its disposal a series of instruments for combatting drug abuse, including above all international conventions and the 1990 Global Plan of Action. The ratification of these conventions and their effective implementation are prerequisites for expanding international cooperation further. The Czech Republic appeals to countries which have so far not done so to become parties to the international conventions related to combatting narcotic drugs and to proceed with their consistent implementation; inasmuch as we regard international cooperation in combatting drug abuse to be one of the primary and most appropriate tasks facing our international community today and are prepared to fully participate in it.

Thank you.